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Coup de grâce (1976)

Der Fangschuß (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 17 November 1976 (France)
A countess' unrequited love for an army officer leads to disaster.


(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Erich von Lhomond
Sophie de Reval
Rüdiger Kirschstein ...
Conrad von Reval
Marc Eyraud ...
Dr. Paul Rugen
Bruno Thost ...
Henry van Lyck ...
Hannes Kaetner ...
Franz Morak ...
Grigori Loew
Frederik von Zichy ...
Franz von Aland
Tante Praskovia
Alexander von Eschwege ...
Maria Guttenbrunner ...
Mutter Loew
Stephan Paryla ...


A countess' unrequited love for an army officer leads to disaster.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 November 1976 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Coup de grâce  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sophie de Reval: Do you have a mistress? Some woman must be waiting for you in Germany or France? Franz tells me women are fond of you.
Erich von Lhomond: I have no mistress, Sophie.
Sophie de Reval: You don't want to talk about it.
Erich von Lhomond: My affairs with women have been short and trivial. There's nothing to say.
Sophie de Reval: A brief affair can be beautiful.
Erich von Lhomond: Women want lasting relationships. Friendship means more to me.
Sophie de Reval: Than love?
Erich von Lhomond: It's more reliable.
Sophie de Reval: You've only met the worst sort of women.
Erich von Lhomond: On the contrary, I thought them the best. In any case, they didn't try to ...
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Featured in Nur zum Spaß, nur zum Spiel (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

Truly fine, dark, engrossing, mature
3 October 2003 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I love Der Fangschuss (I think of the title in German, rather than Coup de Grace because the movie is told in German - there's nothing French about it in style, direction, language or locale).

I also have a very different interpretation of the movie and different sympathies toward the characters than the author of the other (fine) review

  • and probably different from the director/lead actress who are generally

involved in movies with a quite leftist slant.

The three Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, had all been occupied by and incorporated in Russia - and any nationalist movements were put down by the Czars - for at least a hundred years before the Russian Revolution in 1917. During this time, wealthy German aristocrats were allowed by the Russian government to own and occupy great houses on agricultural estates (Junker families).

The vast estates had once operated somewhat like southern plantations in the U.S., but like those plantations, were transformed by the liberation of the serfs in the 1860s. Thus, for over half a century by the time our movie begins, the great farms had been operated like any other enterprise - with the vast numbers of agricultural workers free to stay or go. With the Revolution and Russia's consequent withdrawal from World War I, there was of course chaos throughout Russia - including a civil war that lasted until 1921.

During this time, the Bolsheviks (the radical Communists) sought to ensure that the Baltic countries remained subjugated - now as part of a now Soviet Union - and the nationalist Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians sought to use the chaos in Russia to break away and resume the independence that was once theirs.

During this conflict, the German Junker families sided with the nationalists (who also wished to install democracy) rather than the Bolsheviks.

Thus, even as the aristocratic Germans returned to their homes from the most horrifying war that had ever existed, they were involuntarily forced into a new war for their very homes by the besieging Bolsheviks who sought to maintain the status quo absorption of the Baltic countries in a tyrannical Russia. The German aristocrats made common cause with the Baltic democrats to defend the homes in which they and their families had lived for generations.

This movie concerns two such German officers - both of whom grew up in this area of Latvia - and have been friends since they were children. They have grown particularly close in four years of fighting on the western front in W.W.I.

Now they are returning home - as they arrive at night, they see artillery shells from Bolshevik mortar bursting over homes.

One of the officers is Konrad -whose home remains and whose aunt and sister live there. His best friend who has traveled with him for over a thousand miles from the western front is Erich, a courageous and heroic figure who knows his home was already seized.

Erich is a handsome, romantic, melancholy, artistic and thoughtful figure, a veritable Siegfried, who describes his willingness to fight for Konrad's home -- rather than live comfortably in Paris or Germany --as part of his romantic addiction to "lost causes".

The defenders of Konrad's home consist not only of the servants of the estate, but of native Latvian and Lithuanian soldiers from the area, as well as some Russian White officers opposed to the Bolsheviks -- some of whom want the return of the Czar and some of whom want the return of Kerensky, the democratic leader who began the Revolution that toppled the Czar but fell six months later in the October Bolshevik Revolution.

Konrad's sister, Sophie, is a lonely romantic who is also an immature and trendy political dilettante who believes it romantic to flirt with the local Bolsheviks whose forces attack her home each night. Thus, she has formed a relationship with a dreary Bolshevik tailor in the town. This must all be kept secret from the dozens of soldiers who occupy her home to defend her and her aunt.

However, when Erich arrives with her brother, she forms a mad attachment and throws herself at the dutiful Erich who is attempting to save all their lives by directing the defense of the house against the siege. I won't reveal any more of the plot - or the increasing madness and promiscuity of the sister.

The movie reveals the trendiness of the sister as leftist political dilettante - who may display personal courage, but brings disaster to all she touches - as well as the difficult path of a romantic conservative figure who follows duty to friend and duty to oppose barbarism -- even when it means personal sacrifice and difficult choices.

History shows that the Bolsheviks were defeated, and independence gained, by the combination of the Baltic peoples, the Finnish General Mannerheim (who saw the threat to Finland from the neighboring Bolsheviks - who would attack again in 1939) and the German aristocrats. As a result, the Treaty of Versailles recognized the independence of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - independent sovereign and democratic countries until overrun in 1939/40 by the Soviet Union pursuant to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. They regained their independence in 1989-91 and are about to join the European Union.

Without the difficult and successful fight for independence, these countries would not have had the recent memory of independence to console them during the subsequent half century's suppression of liberties - and would perhaps not have struggled so greatly to regain their liberty.

The movie is however primarily a character study - shot in black and white - sometimes a little difficult to follow due to the rapidity with which they identify characters -- but well worth it. It is fascinating.

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